The Rude Baguette launched on possible one of the worst days to launch a blog – Halloween – and yet, that day, 10,000 people read our first few blog posts. Such great articles as “Siri isn’t socialist” and “What’s wrong with being a copycat?” set the stage for what would be an interesting year. The Rude Baguette was born out of necessity – not out of any desire to achieve x% of some market cap, or a copycat of an already successful blog, but out of a sheer need. For what, we didn’t know, but there was a gut feeling that people needed to be reading about in France in English from people connected to the startup scene.
I’ll be the first to say that it took us a while to figure out what our place was in the world of Tech News. In our first 3 months we got threatened with lawsuit 3 times – I think once it was merited – and I made a few enemies of people I’d never met. That was definitely difficult to repair. But once we figured out what we wanted to stand for – hard-hitting tech journalism in France – we knew the potential was limitless and there was work to be done.
Who exactly are our competitors?
One of the interesting things I quickly learned is that we were doing something that no one else had done – we weren’t localizing our language. In France, all the major tech blogs had localized: Techcrunch France, ReadWrite(Web) France, Mashable France, CNET France, and TheNextWeb France – Le Huffington Post even launched since we started. You know what these blogs all have in common? They’re dead.
They couldn’t compete with the local connected blogs like FrenchWeb, Presse Citron, and JournalDuNet, and they all failed to identify one key market problem: no one outside of France could read them.
When we initially launched, many asked how we planned to take on FrenchWeb, the reigning venture-backed source of news. For us, it was never even a question: after all only 46% of our traffic comes from France – and we wish it were less. We get at least 25% of our traffic from the US/UK, and Germany & Canada consistently follow behind in terms of traffic. This is because we realized the dirty little secret about France – French people speak English, and people outside of France want to know what’s going on in France.
Our value-added: providing insight into a traditionally inaccessible market.
From a purely business side, The Rude Baguette is proud to say that we provide the best insight into the French tech market for businesses, individuals, and financial organizations outside of France. Our Weekly Newsletter is now up to 1800 people receiving a curated newsletter of what’s going on in France, as well as news about which startups to keep an eye on. From what we can track, there’s about 20% of subscribers reading from the US – and that’s without doing any advertisement to that audience. All of our articles are posted during the day in France, for now, which means that in order for US readers to read the Rude Baguette, they have to really want to – again, for now.
In one year, The Rude Baguette posted 435 articles (this is the 435th), almost exclusively on week days. I can only imagine the number of stories that went unwritten due to lack of resources or time, and now that we’ve gotten our feet wet, I can confidently say that no story will go untold, and every story will be backed with analysis & fact, as well as an educated opinion that is open for debate.
Our numbers aren’t mind-blowing – in fact, I feel that people think we are much more read than we actually are. Personally, I prefer to be in this position than in the opposite. What I have noticed, however, is that in the past few months, we’ve reached “LVL 2 notoriety,” as I call it. suddenly, GigaOm, TheNextWeb, TechCrunch, and others began to site us as the source of startup news in France – and we’ve started to feel it.
Above you can see our monthly stats – in May & July we had a few articles on the cover of Hackernews, so we jumped up a bit, but what we’ve started to notice in the past three months is the beginning of a curve. Within that curve, we’ve seen our returning visitors double in the past 6 months, and our new visitors stay steadily large at 65% of our traffic. We’re still being discovered for the first time by most of our readers, but those who discover us keep on reading, and our returning reader base is getting close to 10K readers – 5x our twitter following & MailChimp subscribers. Our latest month at 30K unique visitors – a big fish in a small pond, but we’re looking at the ocean. To give you an idea of where we stand: Frenchweb does about 600K UVs and TechCrunch did about 25M page views this past month – we see our potential as lying somewhere in the middle.
As a startup, we’ve got a long way to go before we prove what we already suspect – that France, and Europe, are ready for an English-language startup blog (no offense, TNW) – and we’ll be releasing some new surprises in the next 3 months that we think will solidify our stance as France’s startup blog.